Classic Silk Road and Yangtze River Cruise Tour
20-Day Private China Tour: Guangzhou– Xi'an– Zhangye–Liuyuan–Turpan–Urumqi–Kashgar–Chongqing–Yangtze–Shanghai
Begin your journey in Guangzhou, known for its vibrant markets and delicious cuisine. Explore the ancient city of Xian, home to the incredible Terracotta Warriors. Traverse the legendary Silk Road, immersing yourself in the history and culture of the majestic desert landscapes. Discover the modern metropolis of Shanghai, with its futuristic skyline and historic Bund. Enjoy a scenic cruise along the breathtaking Yangtze River, witnessing dramatic gorges and picturesque villages.
The itinerary below is only one possibility. Tips to tailor-make your trip are offered as inspiration. Send us details of your preferences and our travel experts will customize this trip to suit your interests, tastes, and budget.
Tour 'Wow' Points
Experience the Thrill of Riding a Camel Across the Singing Sand Mountains
Marvel at the Famous Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye
Climb up the Great Wall on the Cliff of Jiayuguan
Make a Mini warrior with a Local Artisan Family
Take a Cruise on Yangtze River of China
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Olivia Tian, a sunshine tour guide!
In October, my friend Amy booked a tour with Chinahighlights, Olivia Tian was our guide in Beijing, she is such a sweet n happy person to be around, not only she gave us the best guide service, also very accommodating, alter the plan as per our interest, took us to very local shopping n food district. Above all, she takes awesome pics, very patient!! Thank you so much for such pleasant 5 days in BJ, look forward to see you when we are back in China, Olivia!!more
Dec 2023, Venture216019
One whole of a good experience !
Kevin was always making flexible arrangements for us making sure we meet our needs. Kevin also walked us to our desired restaurant daily making sure all are well before he left. Kudos to the whole team. Highly recommend ?more
Dec 2023, Cornelius C
China is Amazing Wonders that do not stop coming at you.Great country
Great job,Loved every minute of it,Ethan did an amazing job,True Ambassador of China,Just like the Chinese people,Friendly, dignified and hardworking,Very happy.China Highlights exceeded expectations and then some,I will never even think of travelling with another company.more
Dec 2023, Philip Sardar /Maps10321171537
Wonderful trip to Beijing and Xian
Had a great trip to bejing n xian. Our guide lily liu is so well versed in english and we have no worry here at all. We managed to dine in great halal restaurants though out our trip. Highly reccomended to all muslims travellers.more
Dec 2023, Efen Reyes
Great experience, highly recommended!
Additionally, she helped me with all my personal needs like getting a SIM card, finding an ATM, shopping, dining, checking in at the train station, hotel, suggested a couple additional very entertaining art events. Was also punctual and spoke good English.more
Nov 2023, Wayne S.
Excellent tour with Tom from China Highlights
We used China Highlights for the 3 days of our Beijing trip. Tom was a fantastic guide. Very knowledgable with excellent English. He was able to accommodate changes to our tour at short notice, allowing us to make the most of our limited time. Couldn’t recommend highly enoughmore
Nov 2023, Ross
Wow this tour was honestly the best tourI have ever taken! Our guide Simon Yao was simply superb! His English was excellent and he was very easy to talk to. He was personable and friendly but not overpowering or overbearing. Very knowledgeable about history. Thankfully the weather was good so we were not super hot !Finally at the wall we were amazed by it's beauty and grandeur. It really is something and pictures don't do it justice.more
Nov 2023, Annika M
Excellent two day visit to Great Wall
Our guide ‘Mark’ was incredible. So friendly, knowledgable and funny. The itinerary was perfect, we got to see two different parts of the Great Wall (one of which at night which was magical) and our hotel stay in Gubei was wonderful. Highly recommend to anybody visiting Beijingmore
Nov 2023, James_Wolstenholme
Great Experience from start to finish!
Jack was my guide and his local knowledge and English skills were fantastic. He was punctual, friendly and willing to flex as we went about our tour. Couldn’t recommend China Highlights more!more
Nov 2023, Scott Smith
Helen in Beijing - thanks for paying great attention to details, for your small surprises for the children every day, for selecting amazing restaurants, and leading wonderful walking tours. Your cheerfulness added to our enjoyment.more
Nov 2023, Kamila
Great day out with Mark, thanks China Highlights!
We did a 1 day private tour with China Highlights to see Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Communication was great throughout - from trip planning/booking with Roger and from our guide Mark who contacted us the day before to confirm meet up time/location. Avoided a lot of the queues and definitely learned quite a bit of history from our guide Mark…thanks again! No language barriers/issues…highly recommended.more
Nov 2023, ykeezy
China Three (3) Cities Tours
To the tour guides, Ethan, Jason and Tony, you guys have made my visit an awesome and memorable experience. All the tour guides spoke english and communicated very effectively. They are knowledgeable about all the sites visited including, Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, Panda Breeding and Research Center, Leshan Giant Buddha, Hallelujah Mountains, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and Glass Bridge, and Tianmen Mountain. The tour guides ensured I got the most out of my time I stayed in the various cities Beijing, Chengdu and Zhangjiajie.more
Nov 2023, Kadar
13 days in China
We booked a 13 day’s tour of China with China Highlights. Our travel advisor, Ms Leah Zhou organised an itinerary that suited what we wanted. She was really helpful and patient will all our needs. Leah helped us organised our 30th Wedding Anniversary Dinner and my 60th Birthday celebration?? in Beijing. For this to be possible, she had to liaise with our guide in Beijing. The flowers and cake were a real surprise. My husband and I, were really touched at the good service provided by China Highlights and Ms Leah Zhou. Thank you China Highlights and Ms Leah Zhou for your constant care of your customers. I will certainly recommend China Highlights to my friends.more
Nov 2023, Eda Adams
Perfect Beijing experience
Covering all major sights our exploration of Beijing and surroundings was flawless guided by Lily, along with her knowledgeable and balanced information on Chinas culture and history. In particular, Lily was able to adjust the tour according to personal preferences, e.g. focus on photography, as well as suggesting additional activities like an impressive authentic artistic show. I highly recommend China Highlights as China tour operator and Lily Liu as excellent guide regarding the Beijing area.more
Nov 2023, Perfect Beijing experience
Our first trip to Beijing
Our tour guide was Lucy Yubo. She was awesome. Very friendly, informative and passionate about her job. We really enjoyed her company and guidance.more
Nov 2023, Sreelatha Reddy
Anne and Bob’s tour of Beijing
We did the China Highlights tour of Beijing with our excellent guide Mark and his driver. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Beijing highlights including the Lama Temple, the Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Lama Temple. The Summer Palace with the boat ride and the Garden of Virtue and Harmony were memorable also and the Mutianyu Great Wall was a highlight. We were impressed with Mark as a guide. He knew his history and he was kind and thoughtful. He took us to some excellent restaurants and we were introduced to some beautiful food. We enjoyed his company and will always remember him.more
Nov 2023, BendigoBob
Excellent end to end service
Helen is a positive, full of knowledge, experienced guide.She provided us an implacable service abd experience for 3 days .Highly recommendedmore
Nov 2023, Sariel Engel
Amazing Beijing Tour with Risa!
Risa gave us a wonderful tour of the city! She thoroughly explained the cultuaral importance of each exhibit while also educating us on the Chinese culture. Appreciated having this wonderful Beijing trip with Risa:)more
Nov 2023, Angelica M.
Amazing Beijing Tour With Risa!
We were very kindly received in Beijing by our tour guide Risa. She gave us a very thorough tour of the city and showed us wonderful places, while also explaining the important history/culture of China! Very beautiful city filled with many things to do and full of culture! This was very well planned and made it very easy for us to visit the city and foreigners:) Thank you Risa!more
Nov 2023, Angelica M
Do Beijing like a local
They organised my trip very quickly and efficiently. On the day, Anna was very friendly to me, my mum and my baby. Very accommodating to our needs. The car was immaculately clean and very comfortable. We visited everything we initially wanted and more. Also, Anna took us to the best meal we had in China. It makes a difference to have a local choosing the dishes!more
Nov 2023, Natali A
Itinerary Quick Look
Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.
Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrival hall in Guangzhou. A comfortable private car with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you to check-in.
Visit the iconic Canton Tower. Be sure to take the Bubble Tram for 360-degree panoramic views of the city.
Visit Shamian Island. Enjoy this quiet area, filled with colonial European buildings and tranquil roads. It's perfect for a leisurely stroll. This is a good time to grab lunch, too.
Explore the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. This is a cultural artifact and houses the Guangdong Folk Art Museum. It is a testament to the traditional Chinese architecture that one must not miss while in Guangzhou.
Visit the majestic Terracotta Warriors, an army of over 7,000 soldiers guarding Emperor Qin's tomb since 210 BC. Each figure is unique, and you can witness ongoing excavation in three protected pits. Don't miss the museum and film showcasing the vaults' history. Wear comfortable shoes and take photos (no flash).
Terracotta Warrior at a Cave Dwelling Experience: Visit a countryside cave dwelling family workshop to learn the ancient art of making Terracotta Warriors. Interact with local artisans and discover the intricate steps involved in crafting these life-sized figures.
Xian City Wall with Bicycle: Cycle along the historic Xian City Wall, one of China's oldest and best-preserved city defenses. Enjoy a thrilling ride around the 13.74-kilometer perimeter. If biking conditions are unfavorable, visit the Bell Tower instead. Bike rental fees are included, and guides provide route suggestions. Club cars are available for those who prefer not to bike.
Shaanxi History Museum: Immerse yourself in the rich history of China at the Shaanxi History Museum, widely regarded as one of the nation's best museums. Housed in grand Tang-style buildings, explore four major galleries filled with an extensive and impressive collection beautifully presented. While most item labels are in English, some additional information may not be, but your guide will be there to assist. Don't forget to wear comfortable walking shoes for your visit.
Dumpling Cooking Experience: Delve into the culinary delights of China by learning to make Jiaozi or dumplings with meat and vegetable fillings. Experience the warmth of local hospitality as you are welcomed into a local home for this hands-on activity. Discover the art of dumpling making and gain insight into the local culture. The entire process takes about 1 to 2 hours.
Muslim Quarter: Step into the vibrant atmosphere of the Muslim Quarter, located just 100 meters west of the Bell tower in downtown Xi'an. Stroll along the 500-meter-long avenue adorned with bluestone pavement, and explore the unique stalls, souvenir shops, cafes, and bars predominantly run by Muslim locals. This bustling area is a popular destination for tourists, offering a variety of shopping experiences.
Mati Temple Grotto: Discover the enchanting Mati Temple Grotto located in Su'nan, Gu Minority Autonomous County, just 65 kilometers north of Zhangye City. This scenic spot beautifully showcases the art of grottoes, the panoramic views of Qilian Mountain, and the rich culture of the Yugu minority. Immerse yourself in the renowned grottoes, explore small monasteries, and experience the authentic villages and folk customs of the Yugu minority group. Mati Temple Grotto is a must-visit destination, offering a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Giant Buddha Temple: Explore the Giant Buddha Temple (Dafo Si), located in the southwest corner of Zhangye city. This temple houses China's largest indoor reclining Buddha, a true marvel to behold. Take your time to admire the grandeur of this religious site and appreciate the spiritual significance it holds.
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park (Rainbow Mountains): Venture to the stunning Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, also known as the Rainbow Mountains. Located approximately 40 kilometers from Zhangye, this park showcases the remarkable Danxia landforms, which are unique to the arid areas of Gansu and Qinghai provinces. Enjoy the captivating beauty of Qicai Danxia Landforms, featuring colorful hills that resemble undulating waves. Marvel at the spectacular rock strata, beautifully blending various hues in a magnificent display. This geopark has become a beloved destination for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.
The Great Wall on the Cliff: Located 11 km northwest of Jiayuguan city center and 7 km north of Jiayu Pass Fort, the Suspended Wall is an impressive section of the Great Wall. Perched on a ridge with a steep 45-degree gradient, it appears to defy gravity as it clings to the side of the mountain range. Marvel at this remarkable engineering feat and its breathtaking location.
The Fresco Tombs of Wei and Jing Dynasty: Journey to the remote Gobi Desert, approximately 20 km from Jiayuguan City, to explore the ancient Fresco Tombs of the Wei and Jing Dynasty. Discover over 1,400 tombs scattered across the desert, providing a fascinating glimpse into the rich history of the region.
The Jiayuguan Pass: Experience the "First Pass Under Heaven," an imposing fortress located at the western end of the Ming Dynasty's Great Wall. Regarded as the most magnificent and well-preserved pass among over a thousand, Jiayuguan Pass commands a strategic position between two mountain ranges in the Gansu corridor. Visit the adjacent Great Wall Museum, which showcases artifacts tracing the history of this awe-inspiring structure.
The Singing Sand Mountains and Crescent Spring: Venture to the Singing Sand Mountains (Mingsha Shan), located 6 km (4 mi) south of Dunhuang, and discover the enchanting Crescent Spring (Yueya Quan). This oasis in the desert showcases a crescent-shaped lake formed by natural spring water nestled between towering sand dunes. Surprisingly, despite the arid surroundings, the pool remains filled with water. Capture the awe-inspiring beauty of this unique sight in a captivating video.
Camel Ride: Embark on a camel ride through the desert of the Singing Sand Mountains for a truly memorable experience. Marvel at the mesmerizing wavy patterns of the golden dunes against the backdrop of the deep blue sky. Transport yourself back in time to the days of the ancient Silk Road, imagining the journeys of traders and explorers. As you dismount from the camel, listen closely for the magical singing sound produced by the shifting sand.
Mogao Caves: Prepare for a mesmerizing journey through the renowned Mogao Caves. Guided tours of the caves are available, with English, German, French, and Japanese-speaking guides at your service. During the tour, you will join other travelers and have the opportunity to explore approximately 30 caves, though the selection shown typically consists of 10 caves that provide a representative glimpse of the entire collection. The specific caves visited will be determined by the knowledgeable guide.
The Ruins of the Jiaohe Ancient City: Explore the captivating ruins of Jiaohe, originally constructed by the ancient Cheshi people during the Qin Dynasty and the Han Dynasty. Located in the Yarnaz Valley, just 8 km (5 mi) west of Turpan, this ancient city was carved and built from the yellow-gray parched earth of a narrow, vertical-sided island in a river. From this vantage point, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, encompassing vineyards, orchards, desert, and mountains.
The Karez Wells: Discover the remarkable Karez Wells, an ancient irrigation system consisting of interconnected wells and underground channels. Considered one of China's great ancient engineering projects, these wells have played a vital role in sustaining the fruit and vineyards of the hot and dry desert communities near Turpan. Visit the Karez Wells Folk Garden and Museum located 3 kilometers west of the city center for an intriguing insight into the history and construction of these wells. Take the opportunity to descend below ground for a firsthand view of this impressive irrigation system.
Suleiman Minaret: Marvel at the majestic Suleiman Minaret, also known as Sugong Tower, Xinjiang's largest ancient tower and the country's sole surviving Islamic minaret. Located 2 kilometers southeast of Turpan's city center, this architectural gem is a testament to the region's rich cultural heritage.
Visit a Local Vineyard: Delve into Turpan's fame as a grape-growing region with a visit to a local family-run vineyard. While the Grape Valley can be touristy, we're committed to providing an authentic experience. Explore the vineyard planted behind the family's house, gaining insights into the daily lives of the locals who rely on grape cultivation as a significant source of income. Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the farm, engage in conversations with the friendly locals, and immerse yourself in the charm of rural life.
Red Hill: Red Hill, known as "the eyes of Urumqi," stands as a prominent symbol of the city. Composed of aubergine rock, this 1.5-kilometer-long, one-kilometer-wide hill rises 910 meters above sea level. When the sunlight bathes the hills of Hongshan, the rocks reflect a vibrant red color, giving the mountain its name. Explore the natural beauty and cultural significance of this iconic landmark.
Erdaoqiao Market: Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Erdaoqiao Bazaar, the largest market in Urumqi. This bustling market offers a wide range of goods, including fruits, clothing, crafts, knives, carpets, and much more. Sundays are particularly lively, with additional stalls and an abundance of items to browse and purchase. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the charming old streets surrounding the bazaar, offering a glimpse into the local culture. For the ladies, this market is especially popular as a place to find traditional Yugu makeup and cosmetics.
Xinjiang Museum: Explore the fascinating Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum, featuring a diverse collection of art, artifacts, and historical items, including a well-preserved collection of 4,000-year-old corpses along the Silk Road.
Id Kah Mosque - Video: Experience the iconic 15th-century Id Kah Mosque, one of China's largest and busiest mosques. Witness the devotion of worshippers during the midday Friday prayers and admire the beautiful Islamic architecture.
Abakh Khoja Tomb: Step into history at the Abakh Khoja Tomb, a tiled mausoleum holding the tomb of revered Sufi preacher Abakh Khoja. Visit the resting place of 'the Fragrant Concubine' and explore the preserved tombs, providing insight into Kashgar's intriguing past.
Karakuli Lake: Experience the breathtaking beauty of Karakuli Lake, a glimmering glacial lake nestled at the base of the majestic Muztagata Mountains, known as "the Father of Glaciers." As you approach, you'll catch sight of the lake's crystal-clear waters reflecting a range of captivating hues, from light to dark. A railway connecting China with Pakistan runs alongside, adding to the allure of this stunning location.
Bazaar: Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the renowned Kashgar Bazaar, attracting locals and merchants from across Xinjiang and nearby countries like Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. This ancient market is a treasure trove of diverse commodities, including dried fruits, delicacies, clothing, shoes, leather goods, textiles, rugs, carpets, scarves, souvenirs, and much more.
Kashgar Old Town: Step back in time as you explore the ancient streets of Kashgar's Old Town. Experience the ambiance of this legendary Central Asian hub during the peak of the Silk Road era. Marvel at the 500-year-old remnants of the city wall, wander through narrow lanes, and immerse yourself in the vibrant multi-ethnic atmosphere that makes Kashgar's historic district a captivating highlight of your visit.
Handicraft Street: Located near the Id Kah Mosque, Handicraft Street offers a glimpse into the artistry and craftsmanship of local artisans. Explore this charming old street where a wide range of handmade goods are crafted, from traditional cookware to exotic musical instruments. Marvel at the intricate copper, metal, porcelain, and wooden creations, as well as stunning jewelry. You'll be fascinated by unique items like wooden devices designed to prevent bedwetting. Everything you encounter is either meticulously handmade or imported from distant places, showcasing the rich artistic traditions of Kashgar.
Kashgar Old City Opening Ceremonies: Start your day immersed in the cultural festivities of Kashgar Old City. Witness the captivating opening ceremonies each morning, featuring performers dressed in traditional Uyghur costumes, warmly welcoming tourists from all around the world. Take in this cultural spectacle, lasting approximately 20 minutes, before continuing your exploration of Kashgar.
Start your day with a delightful morning coffee, tea, and pastries. Engage in a revitalizing Tai Chi exercise session. Indulge in a delicious breakfast buffet. Embark on a mesmerizing shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City (Included) and immerse yourself in its unique cultural offerings. Relish a satisfying lunch from the buffet. Delight in a delectable buffet dinner. Immerse yourself in the captivating night performance of "The War Fire of Three Kingdoms Show" in Zhongxian County.
Enjoy your moning coffee, tea, and pastries followed by Tai Chi exercise. Breakfast (Buffet): Enjoy a variety of dishes.You can take other optional Tour: Visit the White Emperor City for CNY 290 per person. Or juse enjoy the scenic cruising: take in the stunning Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge views.
Today you will embark on a fascinating shore excursion to visit the Three Gorges Dam Site. Please note that the golf car fee of CNY10 per person is not included in the tour. After the excursion, transfer to Yichang by bus.
Optional Tour: If you choose to take the optional tour, disembark at Maoping Pier and enjoy a scenic sail through the Ship Lift (additional fee of CNY290 per person). Afterwards, take a bus to the Three Gorges Dam Site.
Experience the allure of The Bund, a historic embankment along the Huangpu River. Marvel at the well-preserved European-style buildings that line its promenade, offering a glimpse into Shanghai's trading past. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere that now defines The Bund, with its modern developments, chic restaurants, upscale shops, and lively bars. Be sure to visit in the afternoon or evening to witness the enchanting lights that illuminate the area.
Visit the impressive Shanghai World Financial Center, a soaring skyscraper that serves as a symbol of Shanghai's prosperity. Take in awe-inspiring views from its observation deck, the highest in the world, and explore the diverse offerings within the building, including hotels, apartments, restaurants, shopping malls, and offices.
Indulge in a Zhujiajiao Boat Ride, where you can peacefully glide along the water and admire the town's scenic highlights. Discover historical attractions such as the ancient pharmacy, Post Office, art galleries, temples, museums, and gardens during the 20-minute ride. Allow the intimate setting of the boat to provide a personal experience of this charming water town.
Explore the enchanting Yuyuan Garden, a meticulously designed private garden showcasing classic Chinese architecture. Immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance as you admire the rockeries, pavilions, ponds, and corridors. Don't miss the bustling marketplace surrounding the garden, offering a blend of culinary delights, handicrafts, and souvenirs.
Visit the revered Jade Buddha Temple, home to invaluable Buddha statues carved from precious white jade. Experience the vibrant atmosphere as worshippers and visitors gather, immersing yourself in the spiritual energy the temple offers.
Take a leisurely stroll through Shanghai's Old Street, where well-preserved traditional houses and narrow lanes transport you to the bygone era of the city. Engage with local life and explore the various shops and stalls, filled with antiques, crafts, and souvenirs, allowing you to discover unique treasures.
Experience the distinctive Shikumen style of housing and witness its evolution from residential neighborhoods to modern gathering places filled with bars, tea houses, and entertainment centers. Don't miss the opportunity to glimpse into the past at Wu Li Xiang, an exhibition that showcases the furnishings and essence of traditional Shanghainese homes.
- Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
- English speaking local guide
- Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
- 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling
Tour code: cht-cx-49